Saturday, August 12, 2006

No U.S. Teams Return to LLWS

The last American team vying to earm a berth in the Little League World Series -- the Owensboro Southern Little League of Kentucky -- bowed out of the action on Friday.

The Lemont, Illinolis, all stars beat Owensboro, 8-1, to earn a chance for the Great Lakes region's championship. The winner of the region gets one of the eight spots in the U.S. bracket of the 16-team LLWS.

Lemont's Josh Ferry pitched a four-hitter for the win against Owensboro, seeking its third straight trip to Williamsport under coach Rick Hale.

Ferry struck out 13 and walked two. He also contributed with his bat, with one hit and two runs.

Owensboro was in the game until the sixth inning. Trailing 2-1, Owensboro brought in fireballer Dalton West -- one of last year's heroes for Owensboro -- to keep the game close for a possible Owensboro rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. But West issued six walks that helped Lemont to a six-run inning.

Ironically or not, Owensboro also experienced a classic meltdown in last year's Great lakes regional tournament. With an 11-4 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning against Kankakee, Illinois, Owensboro yielded six runs but held on for an 11-10 victory. Owensboro was winless in its 2004 and 2005 play in Williamsport, going a combined 0-6.

Even though no American teams will return to the LLWS this year, at least three international teams will do encores, including the teams from Willemstad, Curacao (Caribbean region); Dhahrin, Saudi Arabia (Trans-National region); Mosciow, Russia (Europe, Middle East, and Africa region). One other team in last year's tournament, from Surray, British Columbia, is still in the fight for the last region of Canada.

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